Valued tradition? Armed policing in the UK


Roycroft, M. 2014. Valued tradition? Armed policing in the UK. Police Professional.
AuthorsRoycroft, M.

The traditional social “contract” in the UK mainland between the public and the police involves the ideal of an unarmed police service. In recent years while the public have accepted the more visible role of specialist armed officers on security duties in airports and strategic positions, the majority of officers remain unarmed. Following 7/7 in London and the Derrick Bird case in Cumbria there have been media calls for more police officers to be armed on a routine basis .This would fundamentally change the social contract and the relationship with the British public. The principle of policing by consent and the idea of the citizen in uniform are the fundamental tenets of British policing .Historically the only forces in the UK which are routinely armed are the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. In contrast all major police forces in Europe, as well as the US, Canada and Australia routinely carry firearms, the exceptions apart from Britain, are the Irish Republic, and New Zealand. In Norway officers carry arms in their cars but not on their person.
Every time unarmed police officers are killed, as with the tragic case of Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone killed in the line of duty in Manchester in 2013, the question of arming the British Police is raised.So does the current balance protect the public and safeguard officers or does it fail to satisfy either. Is the current balance between unarmed and armed police in the UK suitable for the 21st Century? There appears to be competing agendas for the Police to contend with. These have been illustrated by recent controversy in Scotland about a standing authority which allowed a small number of officers to carry guns while on routine patrol .Politicians and community leaders attacked the nationwide roll-out of officers with a standing authority to carry guns on routine patrols since the formation of Scotland’s single police force. The Forces armed police monitoring group recommended keeping the standing authority in place after it was given intelligence on serious organised crime groups in 2014.The Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) in its review of the authority (2014) said the operational need for the authority is justified by national intelligence and threat levels.

JournalPolice Professional
PublisherVerdant Media Limited
Accepted author manuscript
Web address (URL)
Publication dates
Print20 Nov 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited11 Oct 2016
Copyright information© 2014 Police Professional
Permalink -

Download files

Accepted author manuscript
Armed policing article 2.pdf
License: CC BY-NC-ND

  • 1128
    total views
  • 2871
    total downloads
  • 16
    views this month
  • 18
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Reform by Crisis: The Murder of Stephen Lawrence
Roycroft, M., Brown, J. and Innes, M. 2007. Reform by Crisis: The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. in: Rowe, Mike (ed.) Polocing Beyond Macpherson: Issues in policing, race and society Willan Publishing.
A blended model for the public-private provision of policing for England and Wales
Roycroft, M. 2013. A blended model for the public-private provision of policing for England and Wales. in: Brown, Jennifer M. (ed.) The Future of Policing Routledge.
The role of PCCs
Roycroft, M. 2016. The role of PCCs. Policing Insight.
Counting Crime: an explanation of falling crime rates
Roycroft, M. 2015. Counting Crime: an explanation of falling crime rates. Police Professional.
Rape: A timeline of reform
Roycroft, M. 2015. Rape: A timeline of reform. Police Professional.
Trends in Crime
Roycroft, M. 2015. Trends in Crime. Police Professional.